How many time have we heard the phrase. Since 1900’s they all said Radio be that change, then we moved to motion pictures, TV classes and learning, video lectures and YouTube etc list goes on and on. . We are till date bound by the classroom coaching method in a typical format and one teacher for every 15-20 kids.
Every innovation tried to revolutionize education, but the harsh truth is it has only evolved, that too at a snail’s pace in all these years. Despite several innovation has happened in education, the literacy count is growing at unacceptable rate in developing countries, and overall growth is happening at a snail’s pace.
Technology in education today is limited to e-learning, and that’s pretty much it. Well, you may say virtual classrooms and interactive learning, but they are nothing but different means to deliver the content in e-learning. So in the world that gets a new smartphone technology every 4 months,why is education taking the lowest advantage of innovative technologies? – Let’s find out.
The core problems in implementing these technologies are well-known. Most important of all is the technology comes at a cost. No matter how many , they are not reaching to people who do not have access to tablets or smartphones. We call this a digital divide, and only a few are moving forward to eliminate this barrier.
Another big problem is, students with no school access as of now, are not getting connected with these existing technologies. We are still trying to improvise the ‘ways to learn’ to existing students, and leaving that educational void as it is.
We need technologies that can reach remote locations, rural places and especially the technologies that can break the ‘cost’ barriers.
With technology, we surely have better ways to communicate to students through audio-visual content or even to some extent the animated content. Both of which are used to develop most of the e-learning content.
Another great enhancement happened with e-learning going online, with online classroom technologies, and it gets better with the Massive Open Online Courses (a.k.a. MOOCs) like Coursera that deliver education from reputed universities anywhere you have access to the internet. Despite being totally free, MOOCs are serving as a learning extension to those who are already educated, digitally literate and own the devices necessary to do it.
Also, video and animated content are proven to deliver no significant improvement than traditional ‘image + description’ based learning that was introduced decades ago. In fact, its limiting student’s imagination, and hence making them remember lesser, as they are putting low efforts when consuming such content.
So with content, we have already come far enough, and we need to think about making the content delivery platforms more accessible.
We are trying push limits in developing technology that is never going to be affordable, and history of failed technologies are the proof of that.
The low-cost, low-power computer systems or devices are going to be the solution to these problems, and we need leaders, teachers to go out there with their devices, and bring new students on board.
Helping them learn at their own pace, not just with one device per child but within a collaborative environment, where they can interact, ask questions and grow their knowledge together.
A great example of this is Firefly Education Program in Turkey, that is going to remote places with their technology enabled vans, and digitally literate teachers, and trying to reach those who have no means to access technology. With learning units, educational parks, and mobile vans, they are trying to change the world.
And thanks to low-cost devices, they can push the boundaries that ‘money’ puts on kids below the poverty line.
Innovators need to rethink on whether we need more break-through technologies, or just a simple solution can make a massive reach out to deliver existing great content to those, who are deprived of learning.